Russia's Gazprombank says no role in Venezuela graft case

Slideshow ( 2 images )

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russian bank Gazprombank on Friday said it had no role in a Venezuelan corruption case at state energy company PDVSA.

Abraham Ortega, a former financial executive at PDVSA, accepted $5 million in bribes to favor a French oil company and a Russian bank, U.S. prosecutors in Florida said on Wednesday in a statement, which did not name either company.

A source with knowledge of the matter on Thursday told Reuters that French oil company Perenco and Gazprombank were the two companies.

“Gazprombank denies information of any connection between the bank and/or any of the bank’s group of companies to alleged $1.2 billion money laundering, as well as alleged corruption cases at PDVSA. Gazprombank did not receive any official requests or notifications from U.S. justice authorities,” the company said in a statement.

Prosecutors said that in exchange for the bribes, Ortega helped companies gain “priority status” to loan money to oil joint ventures in which they were partners with PDVSA.

Gazprombank said it had structured a loan financing of capital investments and operational costs of its Petrozamora joint venture with PDVSA in 2013, “on the market conditions, without any preferences from Venezuelan side.”

“Such financing structure does not differ from usual financing practice by foreign investors,” Gazprombank said in a statement.

PDVSA in 2013 said it signed a deal with Gazprombank for $1 billion in financing for the Petrozamora joint venture.

Perenco on Thursday declined to comment. PDVSA has not responded to requests for comment.

Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Additional reporting by Tatiana Voronova in Moscow; Editing by Andrea Ricci